It was the middle of practice on Monday, and Maryland had just wrapped up shooting some free throws when coach Gary Williams had an announcement for his team.
The NCAA had finally cleared forward Jin Soo Kim after a protracted qualifying saga.
“It was awesome,” senior forward Dave Neal said. “I’ve seen Jin Soo on the sideline and he’s been kind of sad because he feels left out. He couldn’t do Maryland Madness, he couldn’t practice. He was just sitting there. Now he feels like he’s more part of the team and actually doing stuff with us now.”
Apparently, he’s doing quite a bit.
Williams said Kim will play in tomorrow’s exhibition game against Northwood, so he clearly is in at least semi-decent shape despite not practicing until this week.
Other snippets from Williams’ psuedo-scouting report: Kim is a quick learner. Even during the qualification saga, he was at practice observing how the Terps’ offense works.
“Some guys, if they weren’t on the court, they wouldn’t be picking up anything,” Williams said. “Jin Soo’s done a good job. We can run some of our plays with him on the court tomorrow, which is good.”
Still, Kim will need some time to catch up as he adjusts to everything. Chances are, his most valuable role this year will be as a shooter off the bench, and Williams has said in the past he is one the best perimeter options on the roster.
That’s a much better fate than the limbo Kim was stuck in throughout the summer and well into the beginning of practice.
“I know that’s been very tough on him,” forward Landon Milbourne said. “For a guy to come in expecting to playing and kind of staying in the balance whether you’re not going to be able to play and you have to see what people will say, it kind of messes with your head a little bit. Once he got admitted to play, I think it was a big load off his shoulders.”